Symptomatic Australians still going out

Most people with COVID-19 symptoms are not getting tested and are going out in public settings.
Most people with COVID-19 symptoms are not getting tested and are going out in public settings.

Only a quarter of Australians with cold or flu-like symptoms are getting tested for coronavirus, according to a Monash University survey.

More than a third spent time in public while unwell.

The latest results of the Survey of COVID-19 Responses to Understand Behaviour, released on Tuesday, found 27 per cent of people with symptoms were tested for the virus.

The result is up from 15 per cent in a previous survey.

A fifth of those with COVID-19 symptoms said they didn't go for testing because they did not think they had the virus.

More than a third spent time in public while symptomatic and one in five went to work.

But 81 per cent of those surveyed said they always follow COVID-19 rules and regulations.

Compliance with handwashing, wearing face masks and keeping a physical distance from people outside of home, either stayed the same or increased on the previous survey.

"It's great to see Australians aren't becoming complacent and are maintaining personal protective behaviours at a high rate," lead researcher Peter Slattery said.

"Outbreaks last month in New Zealand and New South Wales, as well as the continued high case numbers in Melbourne saw most people across Australia do the right thing."

He said it was concerning to see people with symptoms either fail to be tested or spend time in the community while symptomatic.

"We cannot have symptomatic people acting as though they don't have the virus when they simply can't be sure," Dr Slattery said.

"That's one of the ways the virus spreads and it will continue to be an issue unless more people get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result."

The survey is in partnership with the Victorian government and the results were collected between late August and early September.

Australian Associated Press